OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators had no problem admitting they stole two points from the New Jersey Devils.
Mika Zibanejad scored the shootout winner for Ottawa on Monday in a key 3-2 victory over New Jersey.
“It’s certainly not our prettiest win,” said Chris Phillips. “At the end of the day, at the end of the season that’s a big two points for us. They’re right on our heels in the standings.”
The Senators beat the Devils 2-1 in a shootout Feb. 18. New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur was obviously frustrated after the loss.
“We worked really hard and deserved a lot better,” said Brodeur. “They won the skill competition again, two games in a row against us.”
Zibanejad was pleased to be selected for the shootout and saw it as a sign that Ottawa’s coaching staff has more confidence in his abilities.
“Obviously you want to take that chance and show they made the right choice,” said the 19-year-old centre. “You’ve just got to make sure you take the chance you get.”
Phillips and Colin Greening also scored for the Senators (18-9-6), who got 32 saves from Ben Bishop. Captain Daniel Alfredsson also scored in the shootout for Ottawa. Bishop is a perfect 4-0 in the shootout this season.
Andrei Loktionov and Marek Zidlicky scored for the Devils (15-12-6) as Brodeur faced 14 shots.
Senators coach Paul MacLean didn’t even try to excuse his team’s poor performance for much of the game.
“We played way too much of the game in our end,” said MacLean. “I thought they were way better than we were for the majority of the game.
“At the end of the day we did enough to win the game.”
Devils coach Peter DeBoer would have liked to have seen his team’s effort rewarded with two points, but had no problem with the team coming out on the losing end of the shootout.
“It was a gutsy effort by us,” said DeBoer. “I don’t look at any points as disappointing. It’s a tough building. I thought our guys played their hearts out and deserved better, but we’ll take the point and keep moving forward here.”
New Jersey tied the game 2-2 at the six-minute mark of the third period as Zidlicky beat Bishop with a wrist shot from the left circle.
After a scoreless overtime period, Alfredsson scored on Ottawa’s second shootout attempt. The Devils’ Travis Zajac tied it 1-1, then Zibanejad’s goal and Bishop’s save on Loktionov ended the game.
Despite being outplayed and outshot 12-4 for much of the second, the Senators managed to escape the period leading 2-1.
The Devils tied the game after Loktionov was able to find the puck during a scramble in front of Bishop, but Greening regained the lead scoring with just 17 seconds remaining in the period.
Kyle Turris split the Devils defence with a shot and Greening jumped on the rebound to beat Brodeur stick side.
“Tonight wasn’t our best hockey by far,” said Bishop. “I don’t think we played our best, the last five minutes especially. We turned too many pucks over.”
Ottawa jumped out to an early 1-0 lead scoring just two minutes into the game as Phillips picked up his fifth of the season. The Senators are 52-11-4 when Phillips scores.
“It’s one of those streaks, records that I can’t really explain why,” said Phillips. “I can’t explain why it happens or why it’s so favourable, but it’s been fun.”
Zibanejad won the faceoff in the Devils end, got it to Mike Lundin who passed it to Phillips whose wrist shot beat Brodeur cleanly.
Ottawa had a number of great chances on odd-man rushes, which led to Devils coach Peter DeBoer to call a timeout midway through the period. The move paid off as the Devils settled down.
When DeBoer called the timeout the Senators held a 5-1 advantage in shots. They managed to pick up one more, but then went nearly 20 minutes without registering a shot.
Sergei Gonchar saw his ten-game point streak come to an end Monday night.
Notes: The Senators signed forward Buddy Robinson to a three-year contract Monday. C Jim O’Brien, LW Kaspars Daugavins and D Andre Benoit were a healthy scratch for the Senators. Ottawa is without G Craig Anderson (ankle sprain, indefinite), D Erik Karlsson (Achilles, out for season), C Jason Spezza (upper body injury, indefinite), LW Milan Michalek (knee, indefinite), D Jared Cowen (hip, out for season)…The Devils are without C Dainius Zubrus (wrist surgery, 2-4 weeks), D Henrik Tallinder (lower body, injured reserve), RW Ilya Kovalchuk (sprained shoulder, indefinite), LW Alexei Ponikarovsky (lower body, indefinite). RW Krystofer Barch and D Mark Fayne were a healthy scratch for the Devils.